Michel; or following a line which runs more inland from Rouen by Lisieux, Falaise, and the valley of the Orne, to the famous Mont on the border of Brittany. They may indeed combine this last with a little tour which should take in the north Breton coast and even cross to the Channel Isles; but if it is the Normandy coast or the Norman country-side of the Seine valley which they desire to know fully, and if time be limited, they should confine themselves to either one route or the other.
A skeleton plan of each of these itineraries will be found, and further details of a practical nature also, elsewhere in this book. The old simile still holds good. The franc in France will usually purchase the value of a shilling in England. There is not much difference with respect to one shilling; but an appalling sum in a land of cheap travel, when one has let a thousand of them pass through his hands. The leading hotels of the great towns and cities of Rouen, Havre, and Cherbourg rise almost to the height of the charges of those of the French capital itself; and those of Trouville-Deauville or Dieppe to perhaps even higher proportions, if one requires the best accommodation.
One criticism may justly be made of many of the hotels in Normandy, though mostly this refers only to such tourist establishments as one finds at Dieppe or Trouville. It is that the table wine is often charged for at two francs a bottle, while it ought to be served without extra charge, and is elsewhere in France. The beef and mutton of Normandy is of most excellent quality, coming from fine animals who are only used if they are in the best condition. This is a fetish which ought long ago to have been burned.
The fish one gets in Normandy is always fresh and remarkably varied, as well as the shell-fish crevettes , meaning usually shrimp or prawns. The oysters are of course famous, for no one ever heard of a Courseulles bivalve which had typhoid tendencies.
The railway has proved a great civilizer in France, and everywhere is found a system of communicating lines which are almost perfect. The great artery of the Western Railroad reaches out through all Normandy and Brittany, and its trunk lines to Dieppe, Havre, Cherbourg, and Brest leave nothing to be desired in the way of appointments and expedition. The only objection, that the economical traveller can justify, is that second and third class tickets are often not accepted for distances under a hundred or a hundred and fifty kilometres; and, accordingly, he is forced to wait the accommodation train, which, truth to tell, is not even a little brother of the express-train.
If it is any relation at all, it is a stepchild merely. Lest it may have been forgotten, as many of his ramblings have, and should be, it is repeated here. Travel by rail is a simple and convenient process in Normandy, as indeed it is in all France. There is no missing of trains at lonesome junctions, and the time-tables are admirably and lucidly planned. The economical way of travelling in France, and Normandy in particular, is third class; and the carriages, while bare and hard-seated, are thoroughly warmed in winter, and are as clean as those of their kind anywhere; perhaps more so than in England and America, where the stuffy cushions harbour much dirt and other objectionable things.
Second class very nearly approaches the first class in point of price, and is very nearly as luxurious; while first class itself carries with it comparative exclusiveness at proportionately high charges. More important, to the earnest and conscientious traveller, is the fact that often, for short distances between near-by places, a convenient train will be found not to carry third-class passengers; and to other places, a little less widely separated, not even second class; although third and second class passengers are carried by the same train for longer distances.
This is about the only inconvenience one suffers from French railways, and makes necessary a careful survey of the time-table, where the idiosyncrasies of individual trains are clearly marked. Excursion trains of whatever class are decidedly to be avoided. They depart and return from Paris, Trouville, Dieppe, or some other popular terminus at most inconveniently uncomfortable hours, and are invariably overcrowded and not especially cheap. The attractions of Normandy for the traveller are so many and varied that it would be practically impossible to embrace them all in any one itinerary without extending its limit of time beyond that at the disposal of most travellers.
From Arromanches to Mont St. Michel, the seaside resorts are not so crowded, and are therefore the more enjoyable, unless one demands the distractions of great hotels, golf-links, and tea-rooms. In the Seine valley, beginning with La Roche-Guyon, on the borders of the ancient royal domain, down to the mouth of the mighty river at Havre, is one continuous panorama of delightful large and small towns, not nearly so well known as one might suppose. Wandrille and St. Georges de Boscherville; Caudebec-en-Caux; Lillebonne; Harfleur; Honfleur, and Havre form a compelling array of sights and scenes which are quite irresistible.
Westward of the valley of the Orne lies the Cotentin, with the cathedral towns of Avranches, Coutances, and St. Michel, which of itself is a sort of boundary stone between Normandy and Brittany. The monumental curiosities of the province and the natural attractions are all noted in the plans which are here given; and from them, and this descriptive outline, one should be able to map out for himself a tour most suitable to correspond to his inclinations.
There is this much to say of Normandy, in addition: it is the most abundantly supplied of all the ancient French provinces with artistic and natural sights and curiosities, and above all is compact and accessible. There is one real regret that will strike one with regard to the journeyings in the valley of the Seine. There is no way of making the trip by water above Rouen. A few words on the French language are inevitable with every author of a book of French travel, and so they are given here.
At the quaint little Seine-side town of Vetheuil, near La Roche-Guyon, which fits snugly in the southeast corner of Normandy, one enters the tobacco-shop to buy a picture post-card, perhaps, of its quaint little church, so loved by artists, and there he will find an unassuming little man who retails tobacco to the natives and souvenir postal cards to strangers while chatting glibly in either tongue.
In this connection it is curious to note the influx of English words into the Gallic tongue. Most of these words have been taken up by the world of sport and fashion, and have not yet reached the common people. The fact is only mentioned here as showing a widespread affectation, which, in a former day, was much more confined and restricted.
All this, say the discerning French, is a madness that can be cured. The Norman patois is, perhaps, no more strange than the patois of other parts of France. At any rate it is not so difficult to understand as the Breton tongue, which is only possible to a Welshman—and his numbers are few. The Parisians who frequent Trouville revile the patois of Normandy; but then the Parisian does not admit that any one speaks the real French but he and his fellows.
In Touraine they claim the same for their own capital. The Normandy patois, however, is exceedingly amusing and apropos.
It is a flower which sprang from the same root as the French. To lose your speech is to lose your nationality, therefore, in preserving your idiom you are preserving your patriotism. The following compilation of Norman idioms shows many curious and characteristic expressions. The definitions are given in French, simply because of the fact that many of them would quite lose their point in translation.
Se trouve dans Rabelais. Du feur. Le temps est au conseil. Un repaire. La belle heure.
Cousue de chagrin. Suivez le cheu li. Plus la haie est basee, plus le monde y passe. Every intelligent person, of course, is fond of speculating as to the etymology of foreign words and phrases; and in France he will find many expressions which will make him think he knows nothing at all of the language, provided he has learned it out of school-books. Many a university prize-winner has before now found himself stranded and hungry at a railway buffet because he could not make the waiter understand that he wanted his tea served with milk and his cut of roast beef underdone.
French colloquialism and idiom are the stumbling -blocks of the foreigner in France, even if he is college bred. The French are not so prolific in proverbs as the Spanish, and the slang of the boulevards is not the speech of the provincial Frenchman. There are in the French language quaint and pat sayings, however, which now and then crop up all over France, and as an unexpected reply to some simple and grammatically well-formed inquiry are most disconcerting to the foreigner.
A fortune, in a small way, awaits the person who will evolve some simple method of teaching English-speaking people how to know a French idiom when they meet with it. Truly, idiomatic French is a veritable pitfall of phrase. It was many centuries before all these peoples were welded together under one stable government, the Franks only predominating toward the end of the fifth century, after they had vanquished the Romans at Soissons, in Belgica, in Normandy formed one of the four ancient provinces of transalpine Gaul known to their founder, Augustus, as Lyonnaise.
In our later day the only attempt at the preservation of this ancient name was in the distribution of the ecclesiastical provinces of France previous to the Revolution, when the archbishop who had his throne at Rouen exercised his rights through all the northern province of the Lyonnaise of Augustus. Later ancient Gaul became again divided, so far as the present limits of France are concerned, into four great divisions, of which Neustria, a vast triangle between the mouth of the Escaut, the source of the Seine, and Bretagne, which included the whole of Normandy, was one of the most important.
The Neustri Kingdom ne-ost-reich , the kingdom which is not of the east was further distinguished from the Ostrasien by manners and customs which were climatically influenced to differ from those of the ost reich , which were manifestly Germanic. In the Assembly reconstructed the map of France—the great rhomboid of France, as the French school geographies put it—into eighty-three departments, when Normandy was dismembered to form the Departments of Calvados, Orne, Manche, Eure, and the Lower Seine.
Normandy, as a powerful independent state in the middle ages, was greatly helped by its natural advantages.
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Its great spread of territory, along the Channel coast between the Bresle and the Couesnon, for a matter of six hundred kilometres, has its shore lined with numerous creeks and valleys and marked by jutting fangs of rock, with here and there a sand-spread shore lying beneath a chalky cliff. Upper Normandy is a series of plateaus, not unlike Picardy and Artois. The streams run through deep valleys which divide these plateaus into distinct blocks, each with a striking individuality.
To the west is the Pays de Caux, which has for a subdivision a restricted region between the Bresle and Dieppe known as the Petit-Caux. Dieppe, Havre, and Rouen are the three angles of this elevated plain, which, on its western boundary, is bordered by the Seine, where a great promontory known as the Nez de Tancarville juts out into the river. In the interior is the curious Pays de Bray, between the valleys of the Ept and the Andelle.
Westward of the Seine is the Plain of St. Throughout Upper Normandy are innumerable forests, preserved to-day from reservations of a former time and guarded carefully by a solicitous government. Wandrille, Beaumont, Ivry, Evreux, and Touques. In Lower Normandy the topography and configuration change completely. It contains innumerable little streams and rivers, and it is more uniformly elevated than in the east; the plateaus averaging between one and two hundred metres above sea-level.
The Orne and the Vire are the chief waterways among this multitude of rivulets, very few of which, except the two former, are navigable to any extent. The whole region is most delightful, abounding in charming river scenery, valleys, and wooded tracts of oak, beech, and pine. The coast of these parts is more sombre and austere than that to the eastward, though none the less delightful, the Nez de Jobourg and Cape de la Hague being as unpeopled and as little known to tourists as if they were in Labrador.
For the most part the climate of Normandy is the same as that which prevails throughout the lower Seine valley; in general moderate and without extremes of heat or cold, and yet quite different from the climate of America, which Reclus, the geographer, has apportioned to Brittany. Frequently, in the valley of the Orne, the early mornings are thick with mist which makes those charming views which artists love; while, in the valley of the Auge, and in Bessin, there is undoubtedly too much rain, as there is in some parts of the Seine valley, while at Les Andelys, thirty miles away, there is a notable absence of it.
Generally speaking, it rains more frequently on the coast than in the interior of Normandy. The Cotentin peninsula possesses the mildest climate of all, favouring that of Brittany to a great extent, owing to the proximity of the Gulf Stream. So mild is it here that myrtle, camellias, and fuchsias grow in the open air, which they do not in other parts of the province, unless well sheltered and cared for. Properly speaking, France has no northern frontier, though the coast which borders the Strait of Calais and the Channel is quite as vulnerable and open to attack as it has been in times past, and as is the German frontier of Alsace and Lorraine.
The mementos of war along the shores of the English Channel are numerous indeed. From St.
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Malo to Dieppe, the corsairs frequently attacked. The English occupied Cherbourg for a long period, and in Henry V. Malo, Cherbourg, and Dieppe also suffered in the same way. The dividing of the old historical provinces of France into administrative departments, after the Revolution, was a most ingenious work. The idea was then, and always has been, to foster local pride and love of country, province, and district, and for this reason the nomenclature of the new departments, carved out of the old provinces, was most convenient and suitable.
It could not have been better done, for the names of local, physical, and topographical features, such as rivers, mountains, and plateaus were used to distinguish them. These political divisions are now as familiarly impressed upon the French mind as were the old names of the provinces, and a son of the Aube or the Eure will fraternize to-day with none of those jealousies which formerly rankled between the Bourguignon and the Norman.
After the division into the old provinces, of which the residents of Normandy and Brittany were as proud as any, came the kneading together after the Revolution of those widely divergent influences which go to make up modern France. Each department is made up of many districts, of which the smallest number is four, if one excepts the poor, rent fragment known as the Territory of Belfort—all that is left of the former Department of the Upper Rhine. The district is made up of many cantons, the smallest number being eight.
The canton comprehends, usually, many communes, the smallest number being twelve. There are, throughout France, 2, cantons. The commune represents the smallest territorial division recognized in the economic conduct of the French governmental affairs. There are in the neighbourhood of 36, in France, and they usually comprise a city or large town, with its surrounding villages, hamlets, isolated dwellings, and farms. The affairs of the commune are administered by the mayor and common council. The ancient province of Normandy, after it had been confiscated and welded to the royal domain of Philippe-Auguste , enjoyed many unique rights; of which the chief was the privilege of its inhabitants to be judged on appeal to their own supreme court, which sat at Rouen.
The peasants of the country-side had always rebelled against royal despotism, for which reason their individuality was most pronounced. This last city possessed a university and long remained the intellectual centre of the province. La Fontaine carried the simile still further, though it is difficult to follow his argument exactly:. A similar vein is the following Norman supplication which some cynical Frenchman has invented or unearthed from a hidden source:. The Norman is always serious and always practical. Some call him an evil-doer, but he is hardly that.
He is, however, exceedingly economical. To-day he lives in a political hatred of change, something akin to the spirit which feared not Richelieu when provincial liberties were in danger. With the Revolution it was much the same. Whatever may have been Norman sympathies, she demanded less of those responsible for the overthrow than any other of the old provinces of France.
All that Normandy stood for in the past, liberty and equal rights, were offered; but the province remained faithful in spirit during the sombre days of the Terror—and to-day the native will emphasize the fact by recalling to your memory the heroism of the young girl of Caen who stabbed Marat. Most geographies, and many guide-books and histories, omit all mention of the etymology of place-names. This is greatly to be regretted; from the former and the latter they ought never to be omitted, and they should be included in the guide-books as well.
In a work like the present it is interesting to know something of the early nomenclature of a place whose present name bears at least some resemblance to its former appellation. Not always has such information been included, from lack of space. But it might well be made a part of every work which attempts to purvey topographical or historical information.
Every one knows, or may be supposed to know, that the Breton is from Brittany, and the Gascon from Gascony; but how many among the untravelled can put their finger on that spot on the map of France where live the Cevenoles, the Tricastins, or Cauchois; or, for that matter, can locate with exactness the country of the Comminges, the Caux, or the Cotentin? With France, more perhaps than any other nation on the globe, names of places have a great romantic and patriotic significance. Little by little geography and history have given circulation to some which perhaps are indissolubly impressed upon the mind; but the foreigner—meaning, of course, those who are not of France—never, until he has delved below the surface, knows a tithe of the meaning of the well-nigh sacred devotion which the native has for these glorious titles which have become so identified with the national and life history of the people of France.
With the Frenchman it is something more than local pride and patriotism. It is the country first, his town or place of birth next, then his present domicile, and, lastly, his own person. As with the topographical aspect, so with the inhabitants themselves. This is, perhaps, unique among modern nations; and, while to-day this diversity does not exist on such lines of stringent demarcation as formerly, the difference is still there in a lesser degree.
Even though all are Frenchmen, they still pride themselves in proudly asserting their right to be called a Norman, a Gascon, a Bourguignon, or a Languedocian; without confounding, at the same time, their love of France, the great mother country. It is interesting to note that it is perhaps a survival, rather than a modern interpolation, which accounts for most peculiar local customs met with in a journey across the country.
Normandy has two neighbours which in former warlike times loved her but little, the Parisian and the Breton. Normandy was divided into Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy. There were formerly many separate districts, and are still, for tradition has by no means wholly left these parts. The country of Caux, between Rouen and Dieppe, which took its name from its first inhabitants, is the chief. The etymology of the word is considerably mixed. Caex, Cauex, and the Celtic Kalet all come to the fore. The earliest inhabitants were known as Caletes, which in later times became Cauchois. To-day one mostly sees the Cauchoises in their quaint cloaks and head-dresses on the quays at Caudebec, or in the markets at Yvetot or Duclair.
A physiological memorandum is found in the fact that the Cauchoises of eighteen years, when they open their mouths, show very bad teeth; which in all other lands is an indication of decrepitude. Here in Caux, however, it is supposed to come from the abundant indulgence in cidre , which, by its corrosive properties, attacks the enamel of the teeth. France has never been considered a prolific country, but here in this corner of Normandy the contrary seems to be the case. A Rouen daily journal published recently a notice of a matter which was just then attracting the attention of the Society for the Protection of Children.
It seems among eight mothers of Yvetot, whom in recent years it had helped, there were forty-nine children. When interviewed, one fond mother made the following statement:. I expect a twelfth!
As you see, they are all blonds. Here is my eldest. Eighteen in the month of May. Is it not fine? She works with me in the fields. The three boys work at the forge with their father. There is another an apprentice to a saddle-maker, and there are six at school. The Cotentin was the ancient pagus Constantinus. Its capital was Constancia, which by process of evolution readily became Coutances. It is celebrated for its rich pasturage and the fine cattle which it breeds. The inhabitants are known as Cotentins or Cotentines.
The Avranchin is another district of Lower Normandy, known anciently as the pagus Abrincatinus. Its inhabitants are known as Avranchais. They were further qualified by the sobriquets of Bouiderots and Bouilieux, probably because they were employed for the most part in the salt-works built on the shores of the bay of Avranches, where they boiled the salt water dry of its moisture and recovered the salt from great cauldrons of copper. Bocage is a separate district in the Departments of the Orne and Calvados. Its capital was Vire. From a French source one learns that Bocage is the least productive part of all Normandy, and its workmen and peasants, known as Bocains, are the most laborious.
It is but a slight tale, but quite worth looking up for its charming sentiment. Of the women of this part of Normandy the following remark by Arthur Young, the agriculturist, who wrote a century and a quarter ago, is pertinent. Writing from Caen, he says:. Is there no antiquarian that deduces English beauty from the mixture of Norman blood? Robert Wace, the Norman poet , put the following words into the mouth of William the Conqueror as he lay on his death-bed. They characterize the Norman of those times as faithfully as do the romances of Flaubert and the contes of Maupassant to-day.
It was a daring thing to have done, since the Prussians were in overwhelming numbers, and the town was mulcted to the tune of a hundred thousand francs for the valour of its citizens, as a contribution of war. The French coast is ever a source of joy and pride to the Frenchman; and no part in all its twenty-nine hundred kilometres is more frequented by summer dwellers by the sea than the strip along the Channel and the Strait of Calais from Dunkerque to Brest.
No country of Europe, unless it be Greece, has its coast-line more deeply serrated than France. Brittany is rocky, Normandy high with its chalk cliffs, and Picardy populous with wind-swept dunes of sand and shingle. Each presents a distinct variety of attractions.
The downs of the north are the real lower country; but all this changes as one comes up with the Norman border. Then come great chalk cliffs, grass-crowned, and at their feet a pebbly strand. Occasionally granite ledges crop out, as they do in Brittany, until one reaches the Bay of Mont St. Michel, where the real Breton coast-line begins. It is the same great chalky cliff that we find on the south coast of England, and eastward toward Etretat, where are those wonderfully carved picture-rocks, so loved of painters of a former day.
Here on the northern edge of the ancient district of Caux, the vociferous waves and currents of the British Channel eat up the coast-line at the rate of a couple of metres a year, sometimes in one place and sometimes in another.
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These great, chalky cliffs continue westward to the Cotentin peninsula; or would continue did not the Seine estuary rend them in twain with its mighty flow. At Trouville advantage has been taken of the formation, and a modern roadway built which, in its way, quite rivals the celebrated arch of the Riviera. At present it serves merely the purpose of the gay life of Trouville, and automobiles, omnibuses, and motor-cycles rush around its death-dealing curves and sharp descents, to their great risk, and causing an occasional death. There is a flaring red danger-board, a guide-post and telephonic communication with a red cross hospital plainly set out in view, but even this does not check the recklessness of the road-users in these parts.
Just beyond Trouville is Dives, from whence departed the fleet of the Conqueror in his descent upon England. Gradually the chalk cliffs give way to sand-dunes or high-rolling greensward, until Granville is reached on the other side of the peninsula. Throughout all this extent the coast-line is dotted here and there with long stretches of sand and pebbles, which once and again have been turned into popular resorts, where inland France comes to enjoy the sea-breezes.
How many French affect this sort of a holiday it is impossible to say; but they seem to have a decided preference for the northern shore, and are quite as great devotees to the seaside—as it is known to Americans, and watering-places, as the English call it—as those of other nationalities. Trouville and Deauville, with perhaps Cobourg, are the most brilliant and fashionable of these resorts in Normandy, though there are many others of lesser repute and decidedly quieter.
The western coast of the Cotentin peninsula has for its chief centre the picturesque old and new towns of Granville, which face the great islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark, the Channel Isles of the English, and the Iles Normandes of the French. This western shore-line of the peninsula marks the boundary between Normandy and Brittany at Pontorson, the gateway to Mont St.
The coast-line of Normandy is generally high, cut once and again into canyon-like valleys, the chief of which are those of the Ault, Bresle, Arques, St. To-day the commerce of other days on this coast is threatened. There have been rumours from time to time of the establishing of a deep-sea canal between Dieppe and Paris, but the project is too visionary for serious consideration, and the great waterway of the Seine is certainly all-sufficient. The Arques flows gently down fifty kilometres of one of the richest valleys of Normandy, and enters the sea at the busy cross-channel port of Dieppe.
Its confluence is made up of the streams of the Varenne, Bethune, and Eaulne. Malo, eastward to the north of the Somme, is a particularly vulnerable coast-line, which, in times past, was frequently attacked by the cross-channel brethren of the Normans. Not alone from this does one infer the prominence which the province holds, and has held in industrial and economic affairs since the time when Henry II.
It is difficult to imagine what France would have been to-day had it not been for the disaster of the Franco-Prussian war, the rebuff of Fashoda, and the unrest attendant upon the Dreyfus affair. France has held her own remarkably, when one considers the depression which periodically falls upon other European nations. Still, there is a great influx of foreign influences to France which, in all but individual manners and customs, is making itself felt.
The English who have settled here in the great woollen industries in Normandy, at Louviers, Elbeuf, and in the neighbourhood of Rouen, are a notable indication of outside influence; but still more so is the recent advent of things American, to say nothing of the forty thousand persons who form the permanent American population of Paris. American farming machinery is seen everywhere, and if the American automobile has found no place in France, American machine tools are greatly in use in the manufacture of the horseless carriages of France.
The French are to-day wearing and copying the fashions in American boots and shoes almost exclusively, and are imitating the Americans in their habits and customs of travel. Your Frenchman drinks his tea—and likes it very much, apparently—after his dinner. Other folk have the idea that this tends to sleeplessness, but not so the French.
In a recent number of a French journal devoted to travel an admiring and appreciative Frenchman says:. They spend their money liberally, and to them we owe the opportunity of doing all that we can to facilitate not only their travel, but to make pleasant their stay amongst us.
We should reconstruct the sanitary arrangements of our hotels, and encourage the circulation of information with regard to places of interest. And all this the French are doing, and if it is coming but slowly, so far as the country-side is concerned, it is most surely coming, and to-day no more delightful travel-ground is to be found in all the world than France, and Normandy and Brittany and Touraine in particular. This, then, is one of the industries that is an important one in France, and the coming of the automobile and the revival of travel by road will do much for the increased prosperity of the genuine market-town inns of Normandy.
In the Seine valley, in the heart of Normandy, has sprung up a cotton and woollen manufacturing industry of immense proportions. Much of the wool is a local product, but large quantities of it in the raw state are brought from the river Plata; while at the wharves of Rouen are vast warehouses filled with cotton from the Southern States of America, ready to be worked into cloth by the busy looms of France.
Perfection goes no farther than the Vigonia cloths of M. The country to the west of Evreux forms the very heart of Normandy. It is a region of rich farms, great prairies, and apple orchards, in which apple-trees are set out twenty-five or thirty to the acre. Nowhere more than in the Plain of St. Little by little great pasture-lands have been made into tilled fields, to the prosperity of the individual and the nation as well.
Were the English farming peasants able and willing to work small holdings in England in the same way, who knows but what prosperity might come to the small farmer there? Through these rich lands of the Departments of the Eure, Orne, and Calvados flow the Eure, the Iton, the Risle, the Touques, the Dives, and the Orne, which nourish them abundantly, and give a thriving aspect to the towns and country-side alike.
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Zero customs charges. No additional import charges at delivery! The Social Consequences of the Revolution. The World of Notables and Bourgeois, — The World of Urban Working People, — Rural Change and Continuity, — The Mid-Century Crisis, — The Transformation of Urban France, — The Peak of Rural Civilization, — The Republican Triumph and its Challenges, —
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